Embodied Carbon -
2.5 billion reasons to choose wood

With an extra 2.5 billion people expected on our planet by 2050 – now’s the time for all of us to get smart about how we handle our carbon emissions.

In the manufacturing and construction industries, we can help reduce CO2 emissions by designing for and working with the next generation of timber building products.

As you know, when timber grows, it takes the carbon out of the atmosphere – instead of dumping more in to it. This is one of the main reasons why increasing numbers of engineers, designers and builders are exploring new ways to use timber in bigger construction projects.

Timber Building Materials

Our cities are often called ‘concrete jungles’ because concrete is one of the world’s most commonly used construction materials. But, unfortunately, its production accounts for around 8% of global CO2 emissions.

In fact, the construction industry alone produces around 15% of global emissions, and in Australia, it is responsible for 23% of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions (Green Building Council of Australia, 2019).

While these figures are alarming, it has been proven that the impact of construction can be reduced by choosing timber. As a general rule, if we can replace a cubic metre of concrete with a cubic metre of timber, about a tonne (1,000 kilograms) of CO2 emissions will be avoided. That’s easy maths.

Indeed, up to 50% of the dry weight of timber is carbon that the growing tree has removed from the atmosphere. And, once harvested, as many as 10 trees are replanted so the cycle can commence once again, generating more oxygen while removing more carbon and securing local timber supply into the future. Breathe easy.

More People: More Houses

By 2050 the extra 2.5 billion people on earth will need an extra 133 billion m2 of additional housing. To put this staggering number in to perspective, this equates to building 523,622 million new Empire State Buildings or 547 million new houses*. Imagine the materials required to build these... And consider, if we choose traditional materials such as steel and concrete, the pressure producing these materials could place on the environment.

Knowing the facts, net zero** greenhouse gas emissions can only be achieved with building materials like timber that embody carbon for their lifetime. This is why governments the world over are now adopting ‘timber first’ construction policies in countries like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Finland and USA.

* Source: ÜRGE-VORSATZ, D. et al. (2015). Heating and Cooling Energy Trends in Buildings, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 41, pp.85 – 98 Philip Oldfield, GBD Sydney 2019
** Net zero is the point at which greenhouse gas emissions are balanced by the removal of these gases from the atmosphere.

Growing our future

Here at Hyne, we’re 100% committed to sustainably grown forestry practices under the Responsible Wood / PEFC Chain of Custody accreditation.

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) are international not-for-profit organisations that promote sustainable forest management. Locally, here in Australia, this programme is known as Responsible Wood.

These organisations’ accreditations prove to our customers that the wood came from forests and forest lands that are used in a way and at a rate that maintains biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil, now and in the future. Relevant ecological, economic and social functions are also considered.

Sustainably-managed forests have a notable role in mitigating CO2 emissions. The timber lifecycle graph below demonstrates that unharvested forests maintain a constant level of carbon captured once the tree has hit its the 40-year mark. When harvested, and when wood products are used in several applications like house framing, the carbon is captured for life while new planted trees are continuously absorbing carbon while growing.

Responsible Wood

What is sustainable forest management?

Watch this video to find out more.